tv [untitled] January 29, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm EST
staff fire questions at him. nixon's would be to isolate himself and study the book and prepare the issues. only person he really talked to much on that day was bill rogers. he talk to rogers, our tv guy, about dress and makeup and things like that and that went back and forth as been reported, how many times he had to paint the wall different color an paint was wet and this kind of thick. nixon also one of the things he wanted me to be sure was that there was no big audience in the studio because he felt he did better isolated with kennedy, not having people applauding or tempted to be applauding. so we had the press in one area of the studios in chicago, and the debate actually took place in isolation with seven pool reporters. and so that was the way we went
into the thing. so he only really spent the afternoon really concentrating deeply on it. i think he obviously underestimated but i think the big -- he could answer any question. the bigger problem is he was trying to be too polite. >> did any of the staff have concerns going in that, hey, he hasn't given this major debate enough attention yet? was there a sense of worry or did it kind of catch everyone by surprise that the tv audience at least -- >> we knew it was going to be a tremendous tv thing. we had no question about that. but we were fully confident that he could handle anything and he didn't want somebody to help him on it. i offered a couple times but he said, no, he'd take care of it. >> this is clearly a character trait of his that one sees throughout his career. it is often a great strength of his, his kind of self-reliance
and those things, but sound like this may be a situation where that was harmful to him, his sense of "i'll do it myself." >> actually it was the same method -- he prepared for that just as he prepared for a press conference and we never before our press conference -- i might tell him some topics that i knew were going to come up but i would rarely try to suggest an answer but he knew what he wanted to say. and that was the case here. >> did he prepare some statements though, on opening statement? >> in which -- i don't remember who worked on it, parole bill sapphire, each one had a brief opening statement and a brief closing statement. >> so then he'd commit it to memory before. >> yeah. >> when you saw him did you tell
him what -- did you knew he was sick? >> i knew he was sick. when he came out of the hospital i asked him did he have enough strength. and he appeared to have the enough strength. he did the carpenter's union thing and it went very well. he just went over and isolated himself in the hotel. one of the funny rumors that came out -- one was that the democrats had sneaked a makeup man in to give him enough coverage where after the boston debates i had -- our own television makeup guy who was just instructed by him just put on the powder. the reason he didn't want cake makeup was because when humphrey debate kennedy in wisconsin, humphrey appeared with too much makeup on and nixon felt that made him look like a sissy. so nixon's macho was part of why
he at any time want to cover his beard much. and -- but he was a little nervous, i could tell that. but felt it would be cool and the room had to be very cold because that was one of our big arguments, very cold room so he wouldn't sweat too much. >> there is a story that i think ted rogers was in with the producer, whether it was hewitt or whoever it was, and at a certain point you expect them to say, focus on my man, focus more on my man, but he kept saying focus more on kennedy because he didn't think nixon was performing so well and kennedy's guy was doing the opposite, show nixon, show nixon. was there a sense even before the thing was over as you were watching this unfold that it was not going well for him? >> no, we had no idea. neither did sall elensallenger. he and i talked about that
afterward. both of us left with no way of knowing what the public reaction had been. there weren't great wires or things like that, like after the checkered speech. nixon went over to his hotel and he was dead-tired and went right to bed. i talked to him for a few minutes, rosemary wood did, then i and my staff went back to our first big job of spinning that we toll everybody we thought we won and salinger was doing the very same thing but nobody knew. anyway, we finally found out who had won was by crowds the next day. kennedy had a big increase in crowd and we had a decrease. of course, you know the story about radio and tv, you like someone on radio and kennedy on tv. >> in the sense that -- >> people listened on radio
thought nixon won. it was shown in the polls and everything. people that listened on television thought kennedy won. so his appearance had had a tremendous amount of -- in fact, he had a shirt that was the wrong size. just little things. >> because he had lost weight? >> because during his illness he lost weight. yeah. >> how did the -- >> let me tell you -- anyway, so we felt that the next two debates were about even or knicks didn't a little better an put our big emphasis on the fourth debate and nixon, the polls showed that nixon won the fourth debate by about 4% i think. it was a sizable margin. which helped us in our final swing to gain votes in the last 48 or 72 hours. so we probably made the biggest gain, i believe, in the final 72 hours than any candidate has in that period of time.
>> when you were looking at polls before that 72 hours push, how far behind was nixon? >> i don't recall exact percent but i think it was about 5% or 6%. what we did at the last was we went from hollywood on a sunday, noon. we made a national television speech. we flew to anchorage and he made a speech there which -- sew would cover the 50th state. and we actually carried alaska which was unexpected. we flew from there to madison, wisconsin for an early morning rally at the airport. we went to detroit where we had a four-hour telethon which was very, very effective which was the first big telethon anybody ever had and we had people come
in and speak hot republican leaders rallied in support. we went from there to chicago where he made a last-minute appeal with eisenhower, both on tv. we flew to ontario from there and had a 2:00 a.m. rally election morning. so that was the complete effort we made, which made up for good part of the loss. >> but afterwards didn't nixon feel he had made a mistake by alleging that he'd go to 50 states? >> yeah, he did. >> whose idea was that? >> that was the second big surprise at the press conference after the nomination. nobody had even discussed it. where he came up with that idea i don't have any idea but that's what he made the pledge, so we went to hawaii first so we'd get that out of the way and we spent a couple days in hawaii which we thought we'd carry.
we lost hawaii and carried alaska which was the opposite of what was predicted. >> right. the hawaii was after prolonged recount. right? this was -- >> yeah. >> kind of like the 2000 election in miniature. it was reversed. >> yeah. >> do you remember a conversation either on election night or that day with nixon and his -- what did he say to you when it was sinking in that he had lost? >> well, election night of all the times i turned up with laryngitis. every time i'd have to go down to be on television i'd have to put steam in my throat so that i could talk so i didn't talk an extra amount with him that night except to -- i would between being called or one of my
assistant make calls to editors and getting word to bob finch. but about 11:00 he decided he probably had lost and he called pat an had her come down to where he was. he normally isolated himself on election nights. had the family in one suite and he would be by himself with some of us going in and out. so he wanted to give up at that time and bob finch and i convinced him that he shall not, that it was still a chance that we could win. it was going to be close and so he went down to the ballroom to -- and told him that he was going to wait until morning to decide what had happened. it was a very touching speech and pat nixon started to cry when he was making his speech and it choked us all up. but he did it. >> i've heard the concession speech where he puts in this
very prominent -- "if" things continue as it appears they will, and it sounds like he's holding out the possibility of challenging results. and there were a number of states where challenges were launched. most famously illinois and texas. but a number of others, these challenges were filed and beat out rogers -- rogers are holding press conferences. nixon himself doesn't seem to be directly involved but -- >> well, what started off that night he had no idea about doing any kind of protest. he just felt that he was probably going to lose but we talked him into saying let's wait and see. we had to really talk him in to doing that. so that was his way of saying that. but he did -- we didn't know votes were still being -- we
assumed there were in illinois but we didn't know. so when it was -- the next morning bob haldeman who was our kid advance man and bob finch and i went in and talked to him and he said that i should go down and announce that he was conceding and thank the workers and we put together a telegram to send to the workers and congratulations to kennedy, so i had said at the time that with the reporters that we wouldn't call back until 10:00 in the morning so they could get a little sleep. so i went down and made his concession and kennedy told me later that that's when he decided he'd won, when he saw me come down to the concession. we then loaded it up on the airplane and flew back to washington and then rowdy
decided he wanted to go on to keybiscayne. we were in washington a short time. we picked up our wives. it was the throw of us and rosemary wood, i think it was all of us, went down to key biscayne. we were there -- that would be on wednesday we got there, and on saturday we were -- we had quiet dinners and things like that. on saturday we were to be over at the nixon's place for cocktails, then we were going to go to a place called the key biscayne inn for dinner. nixon was -- keep saying nixon, because i always refer to him as dick in those days and then when he was president i didn't know what to refer to him as. but at any rate, he was as low as i had's ever seen him.
i think he had the full impact of what had happened to him. during that week, why, people would be flying in there, try to convince him to protest the election. so we did talk considerably about whether he should do that or not. bob finch and i argued that it would be a bad thing to do because two leave the country n in -- without really a leader at a time during the coal wld war time when it was really important. i had a feeling that's what he was thinking about all the time, despite of the pressure being put on by really the whole republican party. we felt we'd been cheated in illinois and texas and san antonio there and missouri and new mexico. and that they're easy enough. although when we decided we lost
the election, the last state was minnesota. other people thought other states but it was when the minnesota vote came in, we knew we lost the election. but any rate, going back to this evening at the key biscayne inn, as we walked in to this inn, the maitre d''s phone rang and said it was for mr. mixon. i said i'll take it. i picked up the phone, it was herbert hoover. herbert hoover had a call from joe kennedy and would -- said would the vice president speak -- meet with my son. and so hoover called, asked whether he would meet with kennedy. so i went into the dining room table and told him what the conversation had been and he immediately got very excited and interested. just revived. he decided he -- that he should. so don hughes took him to the
little phone booth there, put their dime in, and from -- you decided he should call eisenhower before he did anything. eisenhower was in augusta playing golf. but this was dinner. you know. so he was in the phone booth talking to eisenhower and the maitre d's's phone rang again and it was kennedy. i picked it up. i got the feeling out of kennedy that he, too, felt the full impact that day because he just kind of wandered in the confers. he was very complimentary to me about i dressed better than pierre and all these little kind of things. just a very nice conversation. and that's when he told me about that -- when my speech was made is when he decided he'd won. but at any rate, so then we went back and by this time he'd talk to eisenhower and i had talked
to kennedy and sew decided he definitely would do that. sew went back in his little phone booth in the pay phone and called kennedy. he was in palm beach at the family compound and kennedy -- kennedy said he would go up -- kennedy said, no, i can get a helicopter, i can come to key biscayne. so on monday he came to key biscayne and they met just the two of them in one of the suites at the key biscayne inn. that was when nixon told him he was not going to contest the election. then kennedy offered him a job in the cabinet. he did offer him a job in the cabinet. he said, no, i should be the loyal opposition. that was his term. so that's -- i think that was one of the most important decisions he made any time. >> on the protest, later in
november, the rnc, alcorn and morton are still doing lawsuits and -- >> but we pulled out of it. >> nixon couldn't put the ka bakabosh on their efforts? or this will field people off for '64 or next time around you get people feeling a sense we'll get our rightful due next time. >> well, you know, by that time we were back in washington. i stayed until the inaugural. but i don't recall any major -- i think once he made up his mine he was going to stay with that and not going to back off what he told kennedy. >> do you remember him during that period when he was trying to make up his mind actually thinking he might contest the election? >> you know, it is hard to tell, he was so unusually quiet during that time. he was just totally depressed.
but my impression was that he was leaning to not contest it. he was anxious to see the guys who want to put pressure on him. you'd have to talk him into seeing them. i felt he was leaning that way. i think he was from the start. >> what kind of evidence did you have of voter fraud? was it good, solid evidence that was coming in? >> i didn't see the actual evidence but i'm sure it was very solid evidence. in san antonio the way they cheated us was that there were more votes -- less votes disk l disqualified and it is a mexican-american community where they'd have a tougher time putting them into the texas ballot, then you had to scratch names off. it is very difficult ballot to vote on even. and chicago, it was well known that daley stole everything. he and daley became good friend